Intended use of Smart Review

How is the Smart Review supposed to be used, particularly in terms of staying on top of the number of cards needing review.

Recently I’ve had some time away from work and wanted to get the “needs review” number down to zero. I started with over 600 in needs review. There are over 400 phrases in “New Phrases”. I find myself spending about half an hour a day at the moment on Smart Review and the numbers barely move. At current rates even if I dedicate all my study time to Smart Review it’s going to take months and months to get these numbers down to manageable amounts.

To be clear, I’ve accrued a lot in Smart Review because I came to Practice Portuguese after already having studied the language a bit, so I whizzed through the first few units.

I have already gone through and manually marked some cards as mastered etc.

Many thanks,


This article should be a good start for answering some of these questions: How Does Smart Review Work?

We used to add all phrases from lessons automatically, so if you used the website at all before February 2022, then that’s likely a big part of the reason for the large backlog.

Now we’ve changed things and have started giving you manual control of which phrases you want to add at the end of each lesson (and from the other content). That way you only choose what’s most relevant to you and it helps reduce the backlog. But this only applies from mid-February on, as we didn’t want to clear anyone’s Smart Review out without permission of course.

Overall, I wouldn’t worry too much about the number. The more important thing is just doing your best to review on a regular basis. If you’re doing regular reviews, and being thoughtful about the phrases you’re adding, the numbers should naturally start to go down over time. They don’t budge much in the beginning because the intervals are still very short. But once you get each one right a few times, the intervals increase and it will be much longer until each one is added to a review again.

If it’s bothering you now, then I would recommend continuing to make more manual adjustments on the Manage Smart Review page (either Removing or marking as Mastered), or asking us to clear it out to start from scratch.

But otherwise, you’re right that it may take months. This is in line with the long-term nature of reviewing what you’re learning, but I do understand it’s frustrating to see that high number when you’ve done so much hard work!

We are (gradually) working on some changes that should give a lower emphasis to the number “due” going forward, but we still keep it around for now because some people do find it useful. And with the new changes, we are hoping Smart Review will become more manageable anyway. The starting backlog is just an unfortunate side effect of us not having the ‘manual add’ feature from the very beginning.

Let me know if you have any other questions or if I can help at all with the phrase management process!


I find you have to keep up on the Smart Review daily, otherwise the number of cards needing review grows to an unmanageable/depressing number, even after the changes Molly mentioned. It’s all timed and the number of cards needing to be reviewed increases throughout each day.

I personally run through Smart Review daily, whenever I have a few spare minutes. By doing that the number of cards I have to review at any given time is always quite low, usually less than 20. I typically will do a few lessons, and then over the next two or three days will run only Smart Review each day and not do any new lessons, not until I feel I’ve become comfortable with the new expressions. I rarely mark anything as Mastered, except for very simple things, so that when the phrases come up again for review in a month (or however long it takes) I’ll have a chance to review them again.

So for me, the key is frequency. Run Smart Review daily otherwise your list will continue to grow. Frequent small bites are a lot easier to manage.


1 Like

It would be useful to have an option in each smart review question (flash card) to remove from smart review (or mark as mastered). Sometimes I add phrases to Smart Review from dialogues, then realize they have grammar that has not yet been taught, and is thus difficult to learn now. I’d rather remove these…and then learn them later. The little remove button would be handy for that.

1 Like

I wish I could tell how well I am doing. I just spent four months learning A1. I have added close to 1000 phrases and words to review. I have masted about 18% and put 42% in long term memory. Is that good?

Likewise, if I skip smart review, it climbs to almost 150 the next day. It can take a couple or three hours to get that down to zero.

I just wish I knew if I am doing well or not. I feel like I have learned a lot, but I also worry that I am fooling myself since I clearly have a lot work if I have only mastered 18%.

It sounds like you’re doing great! We have more work to do on finding ways to help you visualize your progress in Smart Review, so I apologize that right now it’s not very clear.

Don’t worry too much about the number and getting it perfectly to zero each time. Regular reviewing is the important part and it’s normal for it to fluctuate constantly. This is expected, since you have to review something many, many times for it to be fully lodged in your memory. If you’ve only been learning for a few months and you’ve already mastered a big chunk of those phrases, I would say that’s fantastic!

1000 phrases seems very high to me though, I would recommend being more selective about what you add in the future, so that you are only spending time on what’s most relevant/helpful for you.

Overall, when you think about your progress, focus on what will help you most out in the real world. Are you able to apply what you’ve learned to real conversations / situations? If not, try to pinpoint what will get you there and spend more time on that aspect.

It sounds like you’re off to a really good start and that you’re staying motivated even though it’s hard work. :muscle: That’s half the battle right there.

If you click the menu (3 dots to the right of the progress bar) on the Smart Review card, you can Mark as Mastered or Remove from Smart Review. :slightly_smiling_face: